Metz at Studio 9294-28/06/2019

This was a new venue for me and as it was interesting I’ve taken a picture to give you context. Studio 9294 is an industrial unit close to Hackney Wick Overground station and the Olympic village at Stratford with a small bar tucked in the corner and interesting toilets perched on a makeshift mezzanine level. It’s not a polished venue (except for the concrete floors) and all the better for it I would say. Sound quality was good throughout

A barmy night weather wise as we wilt in the heat the area around Studio 9294 is entertainment central in this part of Hackney with a few other trendy and hipster playgrounds in evidence in adjoining units.

I had wanted to see” Metz” for a couple of years so jumped at the chance to get tickets. It’s a small venue and I thought there audience pull would have been greater but it was packed and several hundred people got sweaty together.

The support was provided by “USA Nails” and “Feels”. “USA nails” were very loud and certainly ideal opener in terms of complimenting the noise/punk/hard-core theme of the evening. I took a quick trip to the front to take a photo and was deafened as I walked past the speakers. They played 40 minutes possible saving there melodic offerings to the last few songs. All band members collaborate in other bands and they are undoubtedly slick and professional.

Second support were Californian band “Feels”. A predominantly female line up them did lose the attention of some of the audience as they are more garage band with a few reggae inspired numbers. Big bass lines held the songs together and they seemed to enjoy themselves. As always in a different setting and context these guys were potential headliners and I did wonder what they would have thought of the slightly unglamorous venue and surrounding environment.

I hadn’t researched either support so my comments are on an initial listen.

With little fuss “Metz” entered the arena and then proceeded to do exactly what it says on the tin. With a suitable frenetic light show, which complimented and accelerated the feeling of darkness that permeates their music, they powered effortlessly trough 45 minutes of what some would say is controlled noise. Of the songs I managed to recognise there were a number off the latest album “Strange Peace”.  These included “mess of wires”, “Drained Lake” and “Cellophane”.

Arguably more controlled and less raw than earlier numbers it was a righteous attack on the senses. And then as calmly as they had arrived they were gone and the house lights returned. Most people left ears ringing in their skulls but satisfied I would imagine.

It was a good night and I had meant to take ear plugs on this occasion. Can’t believe they couldn’t fill a bigger venue but as they are Toronto based I assume they don’t get to the UK too much.

Buzzcocks-Celebrating the life of Pete Shelley- Royal Albert Hall- 21/6/2019.

An event tinged with a lot of general sadness, apparently the date at the Royal Albert Hall was booked way before Pete Shelley’s demise. They turned it into a memorial celebration and I guess most people wondered how they would replace that very distinctive voice.

Before getting onto that some words about the supports. First were” Penetration “who I only saw for the first time last year supporting at Brixton academy. I thought they were good and they had some strong new material at that time. They were apparently travelling companions to the” Buzzcocks” back in the day and even recorded “Nostalgia  “on their first album. The auditorium was already pretty busy by 7.30 and they kicked off proceedings manfully and womanly. On Friday however I think the PA had a different world view as the sound was not great and the lost a bit of impact as they played their set. A few diehards in the mosh pit reacted suitably but I felt based a bit on the occasion it wasn’t clear if you should really enjoy yourself.

Bursting onto the stage next were “Skids”. It was clear from talking to  few many had primarily come to see these guys and there were plenty of Scottish accents sitting in my vicinity as well as give away “Skids” T shirts.

I’ve never seen the “Skids” although I bought a number of the early singles. They were a bit polished for my tastes back in the 70’s but there songs have stood the test of time quite brilliantly. You could certainly envisage that if they were a new band now, with modern production, they could still cut it with those songs. Many are what you could call the hardy perennials but they still sound fresh and they saved “Into the valley” until the end and it received the biggest reaction.

They also enjoyed in my opinion the best sound mix of the night. The band were tight and Richard Jobson (58) bounced around the stage from start to finish. Not so many high kicks (and not so high) but fair play. He clearly likes to keep in shape and removing his jacket after the first few songs he looked like the poster boy for a Charles Atlas course (showing my age there).

About 9.20 it was time for “Buzzcocks” now led by Steve Diggle. They launched into the first few songs as per set list below and then enlisted the help of a myriad of guests, some you might expect and other like Tim Burgess who I wouldn’t have guessed. In reality Tim actually did one of the better renditions, since at the end of the day Pete Shelley had a voice that is difficult to replicate.

And that will be one of the challenges going forward, as Steve Diggle vowed to keep the songs alive, my assumption was that this would be the last outing for the “Buzzcocks”. The sound quality was bad with the signature guitar sound suffering the most. As implied some of the guest vocalists were not 100% matched to the songs and it was unclear how much rehearsal had been taken. To be fair it has to be quite daunting to take on someone else’s songs when they were so personal.

They finished with the iconic “Ever fallen in love” but I would suggest all their major singles have the same song writing quality and the song was actually spoilt for me by the “Fine Young Cannibals “version.

I left slightly subdued I have to say as it was definitely in memory of a sad day for music of a certain generation. “Skids” were a very belated revelation for me and we will have to see how the “Buzzcocks “deal with the situation they find themselves.

 

Buzzcocks at Royal Albert Hall set list:

‘Fast Cars’

‘Promises’

‘Why she’s a Girl from the Chainstore’

‘Autonomy’

‘Boredom’ (w/ Captain Sensible)

‘Love You More’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Pauline Murray)

‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Peter Perrett)

‘Fiction Romance’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Richard Jobson)

‘What Do I Get?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)

‘Something’s Gone Wrong Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)

‘Time’s Up’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Thurston Moore)

‘Noise Annoys’ (w/ Thurston Moore)

‘Sixteen Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)

‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)

‘Harmony in My Head’

‘Orgasm Addict’

‘I Don’t Mind’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey)

‘Ever Fallen in Love’ (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)

The Futureheads at The Garage-29/05/2019

The long awaited return of “The Futureheads” came to the Garage in Highbury and Islington. A couple of the band members are now back teaching it appears so I guess this was civilised bunking off in the half term break.

They were ably supported by “Novacub “who have an indie/alternative sound . I noticed hints of Bloc Party in the mix despite having a female vocalist and there is an association i.e. the drummer has played with aforementioned band and his drumming style defined the overall sound on the night I felt.

They didn’t outstay there welcome playing  only about 25 minutes to keep the running time of the evening on track. They are a new band and showcased the two r singles they have released to date urging the crowd to purchase from the merch stall.

Spot on 9 and “The Futureheads” emerged. Its quite a small venue and stage and they just about managed to get there backing banner unfurled. They seemed genuinely pleased to be there and I think there have been some tough times for some members over the last few years reading up on the back story . This outing seemed to be just about enjoying themselves without the commercial pressures and searching for success which were no doubt dogged them in the past.

For followers of the band the experimentation of the band has been a hall mark of their development the period of delving into acapella which I can only assume must have divided opinion amongst the fan base. They did revisit this period on the night ,briefly ,but the set was mainly the staple high energy numbers that bring a smile to the face. They played a couple of new tracks which on first listening I would say were heavier than the old angular quirky tunes and darker lyrically. Need to do a bit more research there.

The bands stage presence is being comfortable In their own skins these days with plenty of interaction with the crowd between songs. As hinted at earlier it seems to be a cathartic experience for them and exercising a few past demons along the way possibly. Delivery of the songs was polished and the sound quality was great (might have been because I was standing by the sound desk).

An hour flew by and then they encored finishing with possibly one of the best cover versions ever undertaken i.e. their rendition of Kate Bush’s “Hounds of Love” . With plenty of audience participation it was a fitting finale to the evening.

I guess the only downside for the band , as my wife commented, is that it’s a bit sad that there most anticipated song is someone else’s.

In conclusion a slightly more mature band but an evening of banging tunes. Does what it says on the tin.

Fat White Family Review- O2 Forum- 15/05/2019.

 

Been looking forward to the relaunch of the” Fat White Family” and their third album “Serfs Up”. Like most people a little intrigued to see how it would work out in the live setting.

Support were provided by two bands who I have reviewed before. Hitting the stage at 7.30 were “Pregoblin” who are really entertaining and have a few good crowd rousing songs. The two vocalists despite the early hour and the fairly sparse crowd, got into the performance and duetted throughout the set. The question that came to mind is are they or are they not a couple? It was still unclear after 30 minutes to be honest.

Like all the bands on offer this evening the common link is the music scene in Brixton. Second support was provided by “Black Country, New Road” one of the next generation of Brixton muso’s. Think Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) with a bit of jazz and discordant saxophone and violin and you are getting there. Since I saw them last time there sound is thicker, additional guitar has been added and some of the previous spoken vocals have been speeded up i.e. singing. In reality it was probably necessary to get them a wider appeal from the off.

The O2 forum was packed and sweaty and once I had left the front to use the toilets there was no getting back so I viewed FWF from a distance. The set started with a call to prayer, underlying the spirituality that is evident in the new album and in some of the symbolism enacted by Lias on stage.

I feel that they are also possibly going for their best shot currently at wider fame, as sleeping on peoples sofas and starving has probably lost its rock and roll glamour by now. Starting way back in 2011 they took a couple of years out for solo projects recently but are back more solid in the live setting than ever. Inevitably a bit of their original raw appeal has been softened over the years but Lias still spent 50% of his time in various shapes being thrown about in the audience.

The set list below was clever. They managed to work in half the new album but pandering to the audiences desire for the classics. Now with two synth players the sound is inevitably fuller and there are lots of electronic drum rhythms punctuating the new songs. As the set started I thought they may stick to the more exuberant new material but they bravely shared a few songs that are in many ways light years away from songs like “Touch the Leather “and “I am Mark. E.Smith”. But I would argue you still know it’s them. The new album is clearly influenced by the various band member’s solo projects and ideas they tried out in their other incarnations. If you haven’t already got acquainted look up “Moonlandingz” as well as “Insecure Men” and “Warmduscher”.

As mentioned earlier they are having fun with spirituality in their current persona’s and Lias was sporting what originally looked like a shaved head but actually turned out to be closer to a cross between Bill Bailey and a monk. Makes perfect sense.

They played for about 75 minutes working in a couple of songs from the debut album and finishing with “Bomb Disneyland”. I still think they are very much in the running for my band of this particular decade and I have really enjoyed the way they have challenged themselves.

A reviewer in another column did point out that they seem to have replaced heroin chic with slightly chubby success. I don’t think you can knock them enjoying any success they might attract but perhaps the next phase is regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet. But for us musical voyeurs clearly not so much fun in that.

 

Set list courtesy of setlistfm.com

When I Leave

Tinfoil Deathstar

I Am Mark E. Smith

Fringe Runner

Goodbye Goebbels

Bobby’s Boyfriend

Hits Hits Hits

Oh Sebastian

(first time live)

Feet

Touch the Leather

Whitest Boy on the Beach

Cream of the Young

Tastes Good With the Money

(with Baxter Dury)

I Believe in Something Better

Bomb Disneyland

The Horrors – 10th Anniversary of Primary Colours- 9/05/2019

It was the 10th anniversary of “The Horrors” album “Primary Colours”. I have seen “The Horrors” a few times over the years and always felt they were one of those bands that didn’t quite maximise their potential.

They have arrogance and swagger and were arguably bold to move from the post punk gothic DIY of their first album “Strange House” to the dance and synth led “Primary Colours”.

I have a natural predilection for bands that are prepared to break out in a new direction  as its part of my DNA from my teenage years so I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

Support was provided by “Great Swans” who played a 45 minute set of dance/trance. The two “band” members were suitably animated as they fiddled with what appeared to be a collection of extension leads, nobs and switches. Echo’s of “Underworld” in there meanderings.

In a venue like the Royal Albert Hall which was still filling up they had their work cut out to engage the crowd but the energy did break through and the place was definitely a bit warmer as they left the stage.

“The Horrors “came on at 8.55 (on time) and proceeded to plough through “Primary Colours”. Until my ears adjusted the sound was a little difficult but once the band got into their stride it sounded less polished than previous outings but that wasn’t really to the detriment of the performance, as although the album is considered a radical departure you can hear the progression from the first album and its still fairly rock oriented (my view).

Biggest reaction was for the final track “Sea within a Sea” which has the Giorgio Moroder inspired (?) outro which on the album is probably my favourite piece of that particular project.

The band took a mini break and then proceeded to deliver highlights from all of their albums including “Sheena is a Parasite “and “Count in Fives”. This was apparently first time played since 2010.

They finished off with “Still Life“ at around 10.30 and we all parted ways. I got the bus home and reflected on the evening.

Set list courtesy of setlist.fm.

Primary Colours

Mirror’s Image

Three Decades

Who Can Say

Do You Remember

 

New Ice Age

Scarlet Fields

I Only Think of You

I Can’t Control Myself

Primary Colours

Sea Within a Sea

 

Encore:

Machine

Sheena Is a Parasite

(First time since 2010)

Count in Fives

(First time since 2010)

Ghost

Something to Remember Me By

Endless Blue

Still Life

Drenge at Electric Brixton-3/04/2019

I was excited to see “Drenge” after a three year gap. They have been away for a while and the two brothers that were the core of “Drenge” have now grown to a band of four.

This reflects the growing maturity of their music and an evolution into something bigger than the old band.

I had done my research purchasing the new album “Strange Creatures” in advance of last night. Although in some ways not as immediately accessible as the first two albums it is a progression and there are strong threads from their previous work.

On the night they obviously gave the new songs a run out and they all work really well. It is difficult to sometimes work out what is from the back catalogue and what is new.  Songs that worked well were “Strange Creatures” and “Bonfire of the City Boys “(that bass line is awesome and dominates the track). “Autonomy “ which is a sort of cross over track from old to new also hit the spot.

I was hoping not to be disappointed by them being away for so long but they are truly a great rock and roll band. The power and precision of the performance was in your face from start to finish. I would say live the new album feels like their best work. As with most bands the older numbers are not necessarily played with the same love as before or are changed or embellished to better represent the present as against the past.

Good job all round and would be missing them already.

Set List:

  1. Prom Night
  2. Bonfire of the City Boys
  3. Never Awake
  4. Autonomy
  5. Face Like a Skull
  6. Teenage Love
  7. Never See the Signs
  8. The Woods
  9. Backwaters

(Alternate version)

  1. Running Wild
  2. Blood sports
  3. This Dance
  4. People In Love Make Me Feel Yuck
  5. Strange Creatures
  6. Let’s Pretend
  7. Encore:
  8. When I Look Into Your Eyes
  9. We Can Do What We Want

 

Support was originally supposed to be “Wytches” who unfortunately pulled out at the last minute. I spoke to a couple of guys who had come just for “Wytches” so hadn’t heard of “Drenge” before. Which is a shame as I see quite a few similarities between the bands in terms of feel and application to their music.

On the night support was provided by five piece “Valeras” who hail from Reading. Three girls and two guys they are all still in their teens but played some strong rock songs. They are ones to watch and have strong mainstream appeal would be my opinion. I hadn’t researched before viewing so didn’t have any preconceptions. They play on the rock side of musical genres rather than being indie or alternative.

Only comment I would make is that some songs ended abruptly without really reaching any sort of climax. I have seen this before with other bands where it’s almost as if they haven’t quite got the song to a level of maturity where they know how to end it. No doubt they will rework some of this along the way.

They looked like they were enjoying themselves, which is always good and the level of musicianship was sky high for such a young band.

With the right management and a bit of luck these guys will be playing some big stages in the future.

The venue is one I like as it’s never so crowded that you can’t move around and the audience were fairly chilled. Only complaint as no doubt mentioned before is paying £5.50 for a can of Redstripe.

Calva Louise- BBC introducing at The Lexington-7/03/2019.

 

Out at a BBC introducing show at the Lexington. Good intimate venue for those that don’t know it. Supposedly sold out there was a little bit more space than normal so possibly numbers had been restricted.

First band of the evening was “Fuzzy Sun” from Stockport. A very competent band my research suggested they were a little bit progressive /psychedelic. In reality they were channelling 70’s funky basslines with strong melodies over the top. They had a small but loyal following in the crowd, many of whom seemed to know each song intimately.

They have recently supported Blossoms on their national tour so assuming they got some good visibility from that.  They were musically in control of their output and did 30 minutes of good but not for me memorable songs.

Next support were “Feet” from Coventry. Billed as Brit Pop for the current generation on first hearing they had something of “Cabbage” about them. This was probably due to their collective self-confidence and elements of humour dotted about the performance. Songs like “Petty Thieving” and new single “The Weather “being cases in point.

They play songs with varied tempos (sometimes within the song). All the musicians add to what is essentially a traditional rock sound. Drummer and bass provide solid backing, allowing the guitarists to be a bit more experimental with sound. Definitely left me wanting more which is always good.

The sound quality is invariably good at the Lexington which means you get a much better overall audible experience i.e. you can actually hear most of the vocals clearly.

Headliners were “Calva Louise”. First saw these guys a couple of years ago and was impressed then with the tightness of the three band members and there unique sound .I think that still applies,

Called bubble gum punk by some I enjoy them every time I see them and they put a smile on your face. In the interim I’ve seen them a couple more times and they have now released there first album “Rhinoceros”.

They didn’t disappoint on the night. Jess’s voice is spot on and she handles a range of vocals without faltering. Ably backed by the two guys on drums and bass but Jess is the visual draw.  They all look like they are having fun which is quite refreshing and what looks like real genuine chemistry on stage.

The inter song banter is very self deprecating and surely these guys should be bigger than they are. What they need is a major tour support slot to give them that impetus I would say.

Great show and good venue.